Taking the Bible Seriously - not Literally

Posted by Brent.Barry on August 5, 2013

I love the Bible.

I teach it and preach it every chance I get.

I read anything I can find about the culture surrounding it and about the history of its interpretation. I keep up with Hebrew and Greek (the Biblical languages ) the best I can.

I make it a practice to read it with people who know it well and people who don’t know it all. I read it at Starbucks wondering what the Bible sounds like to those people, and I read it in front of a group of day-laborers wondering what it sounds like to them.

I love the Bible.

What I don't love is when people turn the Bible into an idol and apply it literally.

I believe in taking the Bible seriously, and that is why I do not take it literally. Read literally, scripture has been used against medicine, science and minorities seeking equality.

When Christians finally stopped claiming the sun rotates around the earth, it wasn't because they found Bible verses that convinced them otherwise.

It was because that they realized that the Bible is a lousy guide to astronomy.

They continued to gain insights about nature, but the insights were no longer confused with science.

When Christians finally stopped defending slavery and stoning disobedient children, it wasn't because they found new biblical passages that refuted those practices, it was because they realized that the Bible is a lousy substitute for a human heart.

Literalism is to biblical understanding what painting by numbers is to art.

Taking the Bible literally is like reading sheet music with no ability to hear the music.

Read with love, scripture can be the most wonderful book in the world.

Read literally, without love, any scripture can be used for the most tragic of causes.

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